Lewis Morgan further enhanced his burgeoning reputation as his moment of genius helped St Mirren tighten their grip at the summit of the Championship with a breathless 2-1 triumph against Dunfermline.
The 21-year-old, who is back on loan with the Buddies for the remainder of the season having already earned a £300,000 move to Celtic, illuminated the encounter with a moment of brilliance uncommon in the second tier, teeing up Cammy Smith’s opening goal with a sensational back-heel.
With the TV cameras in town, Morgan’s showing in this pivotal 2-1 win will have afforded Celtic fans a tantalising glimpse of the latest young Scottish talent.
However, the visitors were far from a one-man band and bounced back admirably from Nicky Clark’s leveller at the start of the second period. Stephen McGinn and Kyle Magennis were immense and Jack Baird ultimately secured the points.
St Mirren’s first triumph at East End Park since April 2001 – when Mark Yardley scored the decisive goal in a 2-1 triumph – sees them open up an 11-point gap over Dundee United, albeit Csaba Laszlo’s side do boast two games in hand.
Allied with BT Sport being in town, there was the rather odd spectacle of Pars mascot Sammy The Tammy roaming the touchline with a shoulder-mounted camera of his own as the action got under way, and there was ample early controversy for ‘Sammy TV’ to chronicle.
A swift counter-attack after just two minutes saw Michael Paton whip in a fine delivery for Declan McManus, who appeared to be nudged in the back by Baird as he attempted to get his head on it. However, referee John Beaton waved away the claims.
Following that brief early scare, the Championship’s pace-setters – and the league’s outstanding player Morgan – soon flexed their muscles. A slick passing move involving Baird, a McGinn dummy and Smith saw the Celtic-bound playmaker afforded space to surge forward. The back-heeled return pass to Smith, played blind, which followed was simply sublime and the winger finished beyond Lee Robinson with aplomb.
Parity was restored after just three minutes of the second half, with Clark showcasing his predator’s instinct to latch on to a Jean-Yves M’voto flick and head beyond Craig Samson from six yards. The former Rangers striker now has 13 for the season.
That joy proved fleeting for the Pars, though. A deep Magennis cross from a free-kick found Baird woefully free at the back-post and his volley struck Fraser Aird, the only player remotely close to him, and bounced into the net, sending the boisterous Buddies behind Robinson’s goal into raptures.
The result could have been more handsome, but for a fine low save by Robinson to deny Morgan following another surging run into the box.